Monday, 20 June 2011

30 years ago, a beginning...

On Friday morning Mr M arrived home at 6.30am and came straight to bed. As he climbed in one side I leapt out the other. So much to finish and BF would be arriving to complete her cleaning schedule.
She arrived a little after 8am with her 2 year old son - my precious G*dson. My three grabbed him and whisked him off for a walk. Once again she vacuumed and scrubbed and polished while I put the American frosting on the cake, boiled the rice chopped lettuce and cucumber and did other culinary things.

By Noon everything was ready, Mr M woke up and we fed him breakfast in the garden because there was no way that BF would let him drop a crumb in her nice clean house. The children came back and after eating they donned their best clothes. Mr M put on his suit, I brushed my hair and put on the dress from the sale three years ago and we went next door into the garden centre where I worked to show everyone what we looked like when we were scrubbed up.
My boss gave me a corsage made with silk flowers and a lovely flower for Mr M's buttonhole. My daughter decided that she would wear white for her mother's wedding and just to be, well, my daughter she topped it off with what looks like a tablecloth. Mr and Mrs M snr plus Big Brother M were at the register office together with my uncleand aunt. The wedding was quiet and perfect. We posed for photographs and then went back to our house for food.
The american frosting on the cake appeared luminous in the photographs and my youngest son in his favourite blue jumper, knitted by Mr M's grandmother, was very adept at getting into each photograph. My parents rang that evening to wish us good health and we were able to give them congratulations on reaching 36 years of married life.
My Best Friend isn't in any of the wedding pictures because she couldn't come. She had to get home to meet her older children off the school bus and to get dinner ready for her husband. How about that? I have never found a way to repay her for all the things she did in that week but she says it was her way of paying me back for what I did when she went through an horrific divorce. We are still friends, and have been for more than 40 years so I suppose things are just about even. We looked through the album I made thirty years ago, Mr M and I. We chuckled at the memories and I thought briefly about how differently I would do those pages now.
We celebrated our anniversay with lunch in Morrisons in Ross on Wye followed by a little trip around some of our favourite places in the Forest and then we  went up "the hill" for dinner with the shipping magnate - Mr and Mrs Onassis Bluefunnel. I will explain why my cousin is called this one day.
So there it is. The story of our wedding. Captured in the pages of an album and now shared with you. Thank you for staying with me this far. I have enjoyed sharing.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

30 years ago continued...

 My BF talked all the way home about what had to be done to make my wedding complete and perfect. A new dress, shoes, cake, food, invitations -"oh we haven't time to send invites! oh my goodness who will be able to come to your wedding on a Friday? this Friday! Are you MAD!!!"
Because I love her dearly I just grinned at her and kept on driving. I dropped her off at her home and went back to our little house.
Mr M was in work and I thought I ought to let him know what was happening so I did something that was frowned upon. You have to remember that he works in a steelworks so ringing him is just not that easy. At that time he was working "On the Entry End of The Line" so not something to be interrupted for mundane matters. I thought that telling him the date of his wedding was special so I rang. The Foreman answered the phone when I was finally put through to the Line and after a brief wait Mr M was on the phone.
"I just thought you should know that the wedding is booked for this Friday," I said suddenly feeling very insecure and wondering if he would change his mind or if he ......well it was all so new.
"This Friday?"
"yes, is that OK?"
"That's perfect," he said, with his typical calm, "See you when I get home."
He told me later that as he put the phone down his foreman asked if everything was alright because phone calls like that are usually emergencies. Mr M explained that everything was fine and I was just ringing to say that the wedding was this Friday.
"FRIDAY! THIS FRIDAY? Your getting married this Friday? well you mean b*st*rd! How are we going to have a booze up this week when we are on afternoons and nights? Oh and how can we have a whip round in three days?"
Apparently Mr M shrugged his shoulders, grinned and said "I told her we'd get married when she arranged it and she did."
When the children came home from school I told them that Mr M and I had decided to get married. They assumed that it would be at the start of the summer holidays and immediately began making plans about where we would all go for our honeymoon. I didn't tell them.
On Tuesday morning we went to Monmouth and bought the wedding rings - The jewellers gave us a set of teaspoons as a wedding gift. I also did the shopping for all the stuff to make my wedding cake. On Tuesday afternoon I rang my cousin at whose wedding Mr M and I had met and told her to be at the register office on Friday for 3pm. I contacted Anthony and Jane's parents and got a message to them asking them to be at the wedding
Wednesday and Mr M phoned his parents to tell them the date and time. I rang my Uncle to ask if he would give me away because My parents were not due back until the following week. I so wanted to tell my Mum because she knew that Mr M was so right for me. My Dad still believed that I hadn't worked hard enough at my first marriage so.....
Mr M went off to work the night shift on Wednesday and I began the cake. I used a recipe for fruit cake that I had been using for years and as I was pouring the cake into the tin I ran through the ingredients in my head - butter, flour, eggs, sugar....... SUGAR! there it was, still in the bag on the table! I quickly scraped the cake back out of the cake tin into the bowl and threw the sugar in. No one would ever know. I put the cake in the oven and turned my attention to something savoury. I made dozens of bite sized pasties.  I planned to make sandwiches on the day as well as a rice salad and a green salad. I made four swiss rolls - two with jam and two chocolate ones with chocolate cream filling. I made all sorts of other stuff secure in the knowledge that with Mr M, his brother and my youngest son there would be nothing wasted.
On Thursday morning at 8am the phone rang. It was my Dad ringing from Toronto to see if we were all OK and to remind me that they would be home on Tuesday.
"Dad, when you and Mum got married and sent the telegram to Granny to tell her, what did it say?"
"Um, it said getting married on Saturday, will explain when we see you next week, why?"
"Well, My telegram to you would say Getting married tomorrow, will explain when you get home."
"Oh well, you'd better talk to your mother then." So I did.
Mum was thrilled and asked how the children had taken the news and then she said "So which day is tomorrow for you? I'm a bit confused about what day we are on now."
"Friday Mum, Friday the 19th June."
"Oh, right, the same tomorrow as us. There's something about that date..." she half covered the receiver and spoke to dad. "Bernard, what's special about the 19th June?"
"Nothing much," Dad replied "Unless you count our wedding anniversary."
"Oh yes," said Mum, "I knew there was something on that date. We'll never forget that will we?"
When the children came home from school I told them that they were not going to school the next day because they were coming to the wedding. Whoops of delight told me this was regarded as a Good Thing.
I began putting the marzipan on the cake after Mr M left for work at 8.30pm. at 8.45pm I rang my BF and asked if she still had the bride and groom from the top of her wedding cake. She said she did and she still had the ribbon too. She then asked if I had done all the cleaning and was everything washed and ready.
"What do you mean, washed and ready?" I asked
"All the china, you have washed all the china, haven't you?"
"Well, no, it's clean. Why would I wa......" I was talking to the dial tone.
five minutes later BF came through the door, thrust the box with the bride and groom in it into my hands and went straight past me to the sideboard where we kept the china and glasses. Within two hours she had taken out every last piece of china. Washed, dried and buffed to a shine AND scrubbed out the cupboards, polished the cutlery and scrubbed the kitchen floor. I had put the marzipan on the cake made half a dozen quiches and pulled the butter out of the fridge to soften over night for the sandwiches. She began to leave at the same speed as she arrived, promising to be back at 8am to clean through. I stopped her and explained that Mr M would be home off night shift so no cleaning. She turned around and dragged the cleaner from the cupboard and did the whole downstairs before calling it a night and going home.
On Friday be continued

Saturday, 18 June 2011

30 Years ago today...

I was putting the marzipan on my wedding cake, making Mr M's sandwiches for the night shift, ironing my best dress (my only dress) and watching my best friend clean my house from top to bottom ready for my wedding.
I don't think I have told this story before but it seems like a good time to meander down memory lane, after all you only get one thirtieth wedding anniversary. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll Begin.

We met in August 1980 at my cousin's wedding. By September we knew that together was the place we wanted to be and my children then aged 16, 14 and 13 wanted so badly to have Mr M in their lives full time. We found a house for all of us that cost a huge amount to rent and by the end of October we were all living together. The children still had security issues because of the past and it was a delight to watch them slowly learn to trust this quiet, handsome man that made their mother laugh with joy every day.

Christmas was survived without trauma, the deep snow in January kept them home from school even though Mr M managed to drive the 20 miles to work. Easter and Whitson came with their own treats and the wedding season was upon us.
We were invited to the wedding of Anthony and Jane. They were friends of Mr M from school and so we put on our best togs - I had a dress and jacket that I got in a sale three years previously and it looked good! Mr M had his wedding suit from being best man at my cousin's wedding. The service was lovely, meeting good friends outside the church was great and then we went to the reception. Outside the door Mr M turned to me and did that funny "cool" thing so I took his picture.
The reception was a sit down buffet. You chose your food then went to a place on the tables and sat down to eat. As we were eating Mr M turned to me and said
"When we get married we won't have all this fuss." I paused with my fork half way to my mouth and replied
"No we won't," (you can hear the count can't you? one, two) "When are we getting married?"
"When you make all the arrangements." He said, neatly spearing a pickled onion, popping it into his mouth and crunching happily.
"OK," I replied (again the pause, one, two.) Are you going to propose then?"
We continued with our meal, listened to the speeches and when the party began to break up we said our thanks-for-a-lovely-time-and-we-have-to-go to Anthony and Jane and climbed into my Dad's car (my parents were in Canada on the trip of a lifetime so I got to use their car) and went to tell Mr M's grandmother the news.
We stopped at one of our favourite places in this here town and went to look at the view of the mountain. Mr M went down on one knee and proposed and I cried ( I know but it is an emotional thing) we arrived at his grandmother's house to find that his mum and dad had come home for the weekend - did I tell you that Mr M grew up and his parents left home? well that's a whole other story.
We told them our news. Mrs M senior was not overly happy about it because I was (and still am) older than him.
That was on the Saturday. On the Monday My best friend and I went to the Register Office to arrange the wedding. Mr M was working Afternoon shift so he was in work. This is where the difficulties began. We had to find a weekend where Mr M was not working, his best man was not working and his parents could drive here from Basingstoke.
"I'm sorry," said the Superintendent Registrar, "We aren't doing weddings on Saturdays, we are working to rule"
"Right," I said," what about this date?" I gave him a Friday.
"Sorry, fully booked that day"
"This day?"
"Sorry, fully booked"
And so it went on. You have to give three weeks notice and everything after that was either the wrong shift for Mr M or fully booked at the Register Office.
"What about this week," I asked pointing at the Friday that was just four days away
"Well, If you wanted to do it by Special Licence, that would be fine. 3pm on Friday 19th June, That'll be £28 please."
I filled in the forms, gave her my decree nisi, paid the money and stepped out into the waiting room where BF was waiting.
"What date?" she asked, thinking of shopping trips for clothes and sending invitations
"Friday." I replied picking up her bag and marching her out onto the street
"Friday? This Friday? as in four days away?" this time it was BF who paused one, two "FRIDAAAY! How the h*ll are we going to do everything? Come on we have to get started"

To be continued.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Family Reunion

We had 24 people at our reunion yesterday. This included Russell and Cristina who joined us via Skype. Even though all we saw of Cristina was a two fingered wave over the duvet because it was 7am there and the music from the nightclub close to their apartment had kept them awake until 4am. The junior section of the family was totally enthralled by the pictures of Russell on the computer and his great ability to work with kids was obvious even though he is thousands of miles away.
Cousin Andrew brought the photographs his parents had collected and we went through them like locusts looking for familiar faces. He had one of my dad that must have been taken when he was about 25 so Andy has let me scan it. It had a nasty fold across it so I did a little photoshop on it to reduce the torn and buckled look.
Cousin Pat remembered the names of several unknown ex husbands of family members and her husband Tony had the birthdays of all cousin Bernard's grandchildren.
Tony also gave me the final draft of something he had written for the Gibbon Gazette (Our family newsletter) so a new edition should be going out to the family in September. We had a special reunion edition with the story of my Grandson's expedition for his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and this seems to have woken everyone up to the fact that they can all put a bit about their own grandchildren in it.
It was disappointing that my eldest son couldn't be there because his youngest son started with the spiking temperature and hacking cough on Wednesday and the thought of driving from Colchester with a potentially sick child is not to be contemplated. Today my son told me that the OOH doctor diagnosed measles or Rubella last night and while we would prefer it to have been teething that caused it we all feel quite pleased that the decision not to travel was taken. I cannot imagine anything worse than being no far from home with a sick child no matter how nice you husband's family is!
Much time on Saturday was spent catching up with family news. It was good to see cousin Leonard and cousin Bernard talking again after a bit of a rift and to see how beautiful Cousin Paul's wife Jean, is looking now she has lost weight. She did it by counting calories and I am now enthused. I have no idea how long that will last.
Son-in-law brought his posh camera and loads of pictures have been taken. They will be published in the GG for everyone to see and the story of the real uncle Charlie is also going out to those who couldn't be with us.
So another great day, roll on the next one

Sunday, 5 June 2011

How your words can haunt you

Story-telling Sunday is here again, for more on how it started and who else is playing go to Sian's Blog here is my contribution.

When my three children were reaching into their teenage angst years they sometimes had to do things they would rather not do. This was at a time when there were still supermarkets in the middle of towns and people used buses or, saints preserve us! they walked to the shops to get their provisions. I have a dodgy back because one of my horses fell on me when I was 14 and left me with clunking vertebrae. Sometimes it is fine and then I overdo things and...... you've done that too? well how amazing!

Anyhooo, I had to go shopping or there would be three starving teenagers gnawing on the edge of the table and as my dad made it I wanted to keep it without teethmarks.
"I need your help to carry the shopping today" I said, leaning against the front door so they couldn't escape. "If you will all come with me I will cook extra chips, just like the chip shop"
"With Curry sauce?" asked Eldest Son.
"Can I have onion gravy and BREAD?" asked Youngest Son
"Can we have Mayo as a treat?" asked Darling Daughter
"Ooh, yes, I'd forgotten Mayo," said both boys in unison. They glared at each other for thinking alike then gazed expectantly at me.
"I'll do any or all of those if you will come with me and not complain" I watched as they glanced quickly at each other before Darling Daughter nodded and said "It's a deal"
They gathered the shopping bags - even in those days way back in the early eighties I was taking my own bags to the supermarket - I digress.
We shopped. They hated the tedium of wandering up and down the aisles with me trying to work out which was the best bargain and was it on my list. They spread out to gather the shopping into the trolley more quickly and so end this torture. Eldest Son was eager to be off with his friends while Youngest Son was practising his backhand in the toiletries aisle.
I pushed the trolley and tried to gather them together like an anxious hen.
I had lost sight of all of them until I rounded the end of a shelf unit and there was the Eldest son with his back to me and Darling Daughter and Youngest Son some distance down the aisle, facing me.
"Where's the Old Crow now then?" asked Eldest Son. The expressions of sheer terror that flitted across the faces of Darling Daughter and Youngest Son will live in my memory forever.
I counted two beats - one --- two.
"She's behind you," I said, in my best quiet but deadly voice.

Oh, it was so worth it! His whole body jerked as though he had received an electric shock. He remained facing his sister and brother but I didn't need to see his face, I could tell by their faces what he looked like. I remained calm and emotionless for ages -- well, ok for at least five seconds and then I started to laugh. I tried so hard to be cross but I never could. They had so much bad stuff from another source they didn't need me to be a harpy too.
He turned around and had the grace to apologise. Then he totally made up for it by giving me a hug in the middle of the soap-powder aisle in Tesco. All three of then carried all the shopping AND helped me put it away.
Eldest Son went on to join the army and served in Northern Ireland in the Bomb squad and in the first Gulf War, earning himself several medals in the process. Youngest Son also joined the Army and served in NI, Kosovo and spent a very anxious four days in Germany during the first Gulf War where part of his job was to watch the casualty lists as they came in so that he could prepare the letters to the families for his boss to sign. He spent the time waiting for his brother's name to come up on his screen. Darling Daughter moved to Manchester and spent twenty years building a career in NHS Admin before finding the love of her life, getting married, having a baby and coming home to be closer to family.
Now you can see why I consider me to be the most fortunate person I know - even if I am an Old Crow sometimes.